How To Select the Right Caulk for the Job

There are many different types of caulk available at the local hardware stores; each type is suited for a specific range of applications.

Let's take a look at the different caulks out there:

  1. Silicone based caulk: This is probably the most widely used caulk, because of its durability and because it can be used for a wide variety of applications. It remains flexible for a long period of time. Silicone based caulk can be used over a wide temperature range and is great for use around doors and windows, the places where most people will use caulk. The downside of silicone based caulk is that it is not easily painted, so you will have to choose a color that complements your project. Luckily, this type of caulk does come in a clear version, so if you can't find a complementary color you can just use the clear caulk. Silicone based caulk does require a special solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner for cleanup. If used indoors, you can try dishwashing liquid for cleanup to avoid the smell of the harsher solvents.
  2. Latex based caulk: This type of caulk is great for indoor use and unlike silicone caulk, it is easily paintable to match any color in your home. It doesn't hold up as well to extreme temperatures as the silicone caulk, but it can last 20 years (as is usually advertised on the tube itself), provided it is used in suitable applications. This type of caulk is also easily cleaned up with water.
  3. Acrylic Latex Silicone caulk: This type of caulk is more of a general purpose caulk.  It can be used indoors and outdoors and can be painted. Since it is a combination of the previously mentioned caulks, it combines some good qualities of the previous two but it does not excel in any one area. Acrylic latex silicone caulk can also be cleaned up with water.
  4. Kitchen and Bath caulk: This is pretty self explanatory. It is for use in kitchens and baths, and is designed to be resistant to moisture and mildew. This type requires a special solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner for cleanup. Again, when you're using this type of caulk indoors, you can try dishwashing liquid for cleanup to avoid the smell of the harsher solvents.
  5. Butyl Rubber caulk: Butyl rubber caulk is great for use on metal, wood and concrete. It can last for about 10 years and is useful over a wide temperature range. This caulk requires a special solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner for cleanup. If used indoors, try dishwashing liquid for cleanup to avoid the smell of the harsher solvents.
  6. Oil based Asphalt caulk: You can use this caulk for things like chimney repairs and sealing flashings. It lasts only about five years. This type requires a special solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner for cleanup. Again, when you're using this type of caulk indoors, you can try dishwashing liquid for cleanup to avoid the smell of the harsher solvents.
  7. Caulking Cord: This type comes in a roll and is cut to size. Caulking cord is usually used around air conditioners and other large gaps. This type cleans up easily with water.

 

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